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‘Graduation’ for Fife schools project

The first ‘graduates’ of an innovative Fife schools initiative will present their research projects to the University tomorrow (Tuesday 10 May 2005).

Thought to be the first of its kind in Scotland, the pilot project – Working Together To Improve – aims to raise Kirkcaldy High School pupils’ aspirations to enter higher education on leaving school.

The S3 pupils are then guaranteed direct entry to the University’s General degree, provided they meet the University’s admissions criteria.

All of the students involved will receive a certificate and three will be awarded prizes for the best project. The prize winners will also give a five minute presentation on their work.

The programme is targeted at the School’s top 14-15 year olds who are academically capable of coming to a university like St Andrews but who, for various reasons, may not normally have considered applying here.

One of the most effective ways of getting young people to engage in higher education is to give them the opportunity to interact with students. With this in mind, the University has employed students from relevant disciplines to act as 1:1 role models and mentors for the pupils. Twenty-six pupils/students are currently taking part.

Pupils choose the subject they want to work on and, with the support of their student mentor, will complete a 3000 word report and deliver a Power point presentation to a panel comprising University staff and Kirkcaldy High School teachers as well as students and peers. Mentors and teachers provide support and advice but, ultimately, pupils are in control of the research, giving them an advance taste of the responsibility and freedom of university-style learning.

Research projects vary from ‘A study of life in Classical Rome’ and ‘How chemistry is used in everyday life’ to ‘Tornadoes and Hurricanes’ and ‘The Death of JFK’.

As well as being in regular email contact, pupils and their undergraduate mentors meet monthly in St Andrews, allowing the pupils to become familiar with the University environment in a relaxed, informal way.

Access Development Officer Sarah Morrison said, “This is a good opportunity for our students as well as the pupils, giving them experience of working with young people, tutoring and mentoring.

“Too often, the brightest pupils in secondary schools are not being being stretched enough by their curriculum and this initiative challenges them and gives them aspirations to pursue a university education and become the best they can be”.

It is hoped that the project will be repeated, and possibly extended, next year.

Further information on the initiative is available from Sarah on 01334 462279 or email smm21@st- andrews.ac.uk.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

The graduation and awards ceremony will take place at Kirkcaldy High School at 7pm on Tuesday 10 March 2005. Sarah Morrison, Stephen Magee and Stan Farrow will attend from the University.

The announcement of winners and presentation of certificates (to pupils and students) will be made between 8.15 and 8.45. Details of the winning projects will be made available in due course.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk; Ref: press releases/workingtoimprove.doc View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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